Magnet FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MAGNETIC METAL FRAGMENT CONTROL

Below are some of the frequently asked questions that we receive from our customers, regarding magnets and metal fragment control. If you cannot find what you’re looking for here, or would just like further information on anything magnet-related, please don’t hesitate to contact us – we’re always more than happy to help!

WHAT IS A MAGNETIC SEPARATOR?

A magnetic separator is a piece of equipment used to separate unwanted metal contamination from processing lines.

MAGNATTACK™ Global designs and manufactures high-quality RE80™ magnetic separators for use in food and pharmaceutical applications. They are installed in various locations throughout the processing plants – from the moment a product is introduced to the factory, during processing, and throughout the entire process line including packing.

As the products/ingredients pass through the magnetic separator, metal fragments such as work-hardened stainless steel, stone, fine dust and other magnetic foreign contaminates are attracted to the magnet element. These are retained on the magnet until cleaned by operators. Self-cleaning separators are also available which enable collected magnetics to be cleaned automatically without the need for operators to manually clean them.

To view our range of magnetic separators and to learn more about their benefits, where they can be installed and how they work, please visit our MAGNATTACK™ equipment page.

WHERE CAN MAGNETIC SEPARATORS BE INSTALLED?

In food processing plants, magnets are commonly installed in:

  • Blowlines and vacuum lines – lean/dilute phase.
  • Gravity lines.
  • Pump lines.
  • Hopper discharges.
  • Hopper inlets.
  • Ingredient intakes.
  • Packing lines.
  • Bulk outload and discharges.

Installs are not limited to the above and magnets are often found in a variety of strategic locations throughout a food processing plant.

WHAT PRODUCTS/INDUSTRIES ARE MAGNETIC SEPARATORS USED IN?

Magnetic separation is used in many industries – including (but not limited to) mining, recycling, food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, minerals and carbon.

MAGNATTACK™ Global are uniquely focused on servicing the food and beverage processing and pharmaceutical industries. This focus allows us to provide a high level of expertise and innovation in sanitary developments, in support of the requirements of HACCP, USDA, BRC, FSMA, and other such regulatory bodies.

Within these industries our magnets are installed in a variety of different products – including (but not limited to):

  • dairy,
  • chocolate,
  • salt,
  • pet food,
  • flours,
  • liquids,
  • cake mixes,
  • dry products,
  • wet products,
  • powders,
  • raw products,
  • meat meal,
  • infant formulas...

the list goes on and on!

Our most common applications are found here, however these are not the only ones that MAGNATTACK™ hold experience in. We can certainly provide custom solutions to meet any other application, so for more information contact us today!

WHAT IS RE80™?

RE80™ is our customers guarantee that MAGNATTACK TM equipment does not contain inferior low-cost rare earth magnets. It is our guarantee and assurance of proven long-term magnet strength life, and resistance to oxygen absorption and resonant vibration (which are key causes ofdemagnetization in conventional rare earth magnets).

MAGNATTACK™ and RE80™ guarantees quality and performance to our valued food industry partners. RE80™ is also our customer’s assurance of advanced and updated magnetic materials technology.

We believe our customers appreciate that RE80™ is their warranty against a growing tendency for magnet manufacturers to make their equipment using low-cost imported bar and tube magnet sub- assemblies in their separators. These magnets may only conform to initial strength specifications. In these cases often only the SS magnet housing is locally manufactured.

MAGNATTACK™ Global always ensure that the material chemical and structural composition of each and every rare earth element is within tolerance and conforming to RE80™ specification. Any material that is recorded as being outside of this tolerance is quarantined and not used to ensure the quality standard of RE80™ is maintained. RE80™ is subject to extensive Intellectual Property rights.

WHAT IS DURA-SLIK?

DURA-SLIK is an FDA-accepted hard-densified embedded molecular surfacing which imparts increased abrasion resistance and long term anti-stick properties to 316 stainless steel.

Uses include Grate Magnets, Bar Magnets, Magnet Probes and practically all other magnet surfaces, especially for surfaces where product residues or surface scratching of soft stainless steels is unacceptable for hygiene reasons. DURA-SLIK is also proven to be ideal for abrasion resistance on grain and other typically abrasive or sticky materials such as sugar, salt, lactose, coffee, rice, oats, legumes, etc.

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY MAGNETS ARE ADEQUATE FOR USE AND ARE OF HIGH QUALITY?

A risk assessment or validation by certified and experienced food industry professionals will give you indication on whether your magnets meet current food safety standards and are adequate for use for their intended duty.

New magnets should come with a certificate confirming strength and conformance to HACCP International Food Safety Standard 0909MAGSEP 1-2010 on supply date. Instruments used for testing need to be calibrated and traceable through the relevant authority.

Magnets carrying combined certification from HACCP, USDA, CE, 1935-2004 Food Contact Compliance, etc. may be indicators of high quality, sanitary and certified designs suitable for food industry uses.

AMR Consultants partner with MAGNATTACK™ Global to provide accurate magnet validations, risk assessments and reports certified by HACCP International. Contact us or AMR Consulting for more information.

HOW DO I TELL IF I HAVE METAL CONTAMINATION IN MY PROCESS LINES?

Lab test magnets, trial and indicator magnets, screens, magnetic separators, metal detectors, and x-ray machines are all common methods of determining the presence of metal contamination.

Magnetic separators and metal detectors/x-ray machines work together and complement one another to reduce the risk of foreign contamination. Further information on this can be found by clicking here.

Please note: Installation of certified test magnet systems can be arranged by MAGNATTACK™ to determine or indicate the presence of metal fragments. This can be particularly useful in bag tip and raw materials intake to determine whether supplied ingredients or raw material is contaminated with metal fragments. In addition, these magnets can be placed on some product types immediately before packing locations or final bulk outloading. Of course, in some cases an indicator or test magnet may not find much, as only a small percentage of the product stream will be checked. With current regulation and risk of brand damage and product recall arising from a metal contamination event, it is very wise to have adequate magnet protection along with other complimenting protections, such as metal detection.

Extract from AMR Consulting's 'A basic guide to magnets in the baking industry':

"A careful analysis of foreign matter retained by screens, magnets and metal detector rejections over a period will give a good indication of the present hazards. Absence of customer complaints, although reassuring, is not recognised as a safe guide as the big issue may be just around the corner."

I HAVE NEVER HAD A PROBLEM WITH METAL CONTAMINATION IN MY INGREDIENTS...WHY DO I NEED MAGNETS?

Maybe you have never had a problem with metal fragments, maybe you already have metal detectors, or, maybe your ingredient supplier already has sufficient foreign contamination control measures and the product is clean when it arrives to your plant...so why do you need magnets?

In these situations, magnets are used for 'preventative control'. You may have a typically clean product, but this does not mean that a small piece of contamination will not slip into your mix – it may result from one of your machines wearing down, or it could have entered during transportation to your plant. Metal fragments can come from anywhere, at any time.

Although small in size, a tiny piece of contamination can lead to huge problems for the companies involved, including product recall, breakdown of supplier/customer faith in your brand, and financial loss resulting from a combination of these.

Not including magnetic separation equipment in your food safety program is a high risk to take – and as the old saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry!

I PUT A TRIAL MAGNET IN PLACE FOR 2 MONTHS AND PICKED NOTHING UP...WHY?

Metal fragments can come from anywhere, at any time.

Some types of products typically do not have high levels of magnetic contamination, however this does not mean that those products are risk-free. Magnetic contamination can result from a variety of different factors or sources and there is never a guarantee that your product will not be affected.

It is important to have foreign matter contamination controls in place, even if your product is typically clean. There is always a risk of metal contamination in food, and quality controls should be present in every plant to ensure that fragments do not trigger a product recall or cause harm to the end consumer.

See the above FAQ for further information on this topic.

I HAVE METAL DETECTORS IN MY PLANT...DO I ALSO NEED MAGNETS?

Metal detectors, x-ray machines and magnetic separation equipment complement each other and should all be installed in food processing lines to ensure maximum product security and foreign matter detection.

See our "Exploring the roles of metal detectors and magnetic separation equipment" press release for further reading on this subject.

WHERE DO CONTAMINATES COME FROM?

Metal contaminates can come from a variety of places, including (but not limited to):

  • Intakes of bulk or bagged ingredients, grain, liquids, and all other minor ingredients.
  • Wear and loose pieces from processing machinery.
  • Operator mistake, carelessness, or sabotage.

See the next question for more information.

WHAT DO MAGNETIC SEPARATORS PICK UP?

Magnetic separators pick up anything that is magnetic or work-hardened, provided that the weight or size of the fragment does not outweigh its magnetic susceptibility.

Some examples of foreign pieces that are commonly extracted by MAGNATTACK™ magnetic separators include:

  • Nuts, bolts, screws, staples, and other pieces from damaged machinery.
  • Wire from the field.
  • Magnetic stone.
  • Drenching capsule springs from animals.
  • Magnetic dust and fine fragments.
  • Small weakly magnetic stone.
  • Work-hardened and machine fatigued stainless steel fragments.

IS STONE AND STAINLESS STEEL MAGNETIC?

When non-magnetic stainless steel such as 304 or 316 grade stainless steel is work-hardened/mechanically fatigued, it becomes weakly-/ferro-magnetic. As a result such materials are retractable by high-strength magnets. This mechanical fatiguing is common of moving and wearing parts on machinery, therefore work-hardened stainless steel poses a serious potential contamination risk in food processing plants. The degree of magnetic susceptibility of work hardened stainless steel is dependent on the degree of work hardening and the grade of stainless steel.

Some stone fragments such as blue metal are magnetic. There are a wide variety of stones that are magnetic and their magnetic susceptibility is dependent upon the degree of iron content in the stone.

HOW DO I CLEAN MY MAGNETS?

Depending on the type of magnet you have and where it is installed, your cleaning practices will differ. It is important to ensure your cleaning methods are safe and do not cause WHS/OHS risks. It is also important to ensure that your magnets are installed in accessible locations and have easy-clean features.

MAGNATTACK™ Global's Magnetic Mats, SPHERICAL™ Blowline Separators and RAPIDCLEAN™ Advanced Magnetic Grate Systems all have special tools designed to make cleaning more efficient and safer. More information on these accessories can be found here.

If you have a hard-to-access application where cleaning may pose safety risks, you should consider a self-cleaning option or a RAPIDCLEAN™-type system, which will help you to minimise the lifting of heavy magnet grates – a leading cause of potential WHS hazards and damage to the equipment.

Further information can be found on our 'Cleaning of Magnets' page, or by contacting one of our qualified technicians.

WHAT WILL AFFECT MY MAGNETS STRENGTH?

There are many reasons why magnets can lose their strength, the most common consisting of:

  • heat,
  • oxygen absorption,
  • resonant vibration,
  • thermal shock and
  • rough handling (such as dropping or banging).

WHAT TEMPERATURES CAN MAGNETS BE EXPOSED TO?

MAGNATTACK™ Global's RE80™ HT models can withstand product and CIP cleaning temperatures up to 302°F/150°C.

WHAT IS THE BEST TYPE OF MAGNET FOR MY LINE?

There is no set or generic answer for which magnets should be in each application. Each application should be individually assessed based on the product, type of line, location in the process and tonnage rate, amongst a wide variety of other factors.

MAGNATTACK™ Global's experienced personnel can examine your applications and provide solutions based on the individual merits your need presents.

Contact us here.

Further reading:

DOES MAGNATTACK™ CONDUCT MAGNET VALIDATIONS?

The validation of MAGNATTACK™ separation equipment is completed by a third party, AMR Consulting, who conduct magnet validations and reports worldwide. In addition to AMR’s testing personnel, MAGNATTACK™ technicians have also been specially trained to carry out the physical magnet testing, however the fully HACCP-certified report and recommendations are completed by AMR. AMR also test other magnets; they are not exclusive to MAGNATTACK™ equipment.

To arrange a validation or plant risk assessment, or to receive general advice on magnet testing, please visit the AMR Consulting website.

PULL TEST OR GAUSS TEST...WHICH IS MORE EFFECTIVE?

This debate has been ongoing in the food industry for many years. In the past, pull testing was the common practice for testing magnets however recent technology shows that gauss testing is a more reliable and accurate form of measuring coercive force right at the product contact surface.

Internationally HACCP-certified magnet testing and validation specialists, AMR Consulting, recently published a whitepaper which provides information on pull testing, gauss testing, and which is more effective. Click here to see this whitepaper.

I HAVE A PACEMAKER...HOW CLOSE CAN I GO TO MAGNETS?

The safe distance for persons with cardiac pacemakers is a minimum 12" or 300 mm from the magnet.

Please consult your cardiac specialist for expert advice prior to coming in contact with power magnets.

MAGNATTACK™ can also provide general safety information for magnets – please click here.

WHAT IS THE STRONGEST TYPE OF MAGNET?

Rare earth magnets are known to be the strongest types of magnets available, however there are varying grades of rare earth material.

MAGNATTACK™ Global's RE80™ guarantee provides assurance to our customers that the equipment we supply will be of the highest possible quality, long-term strength life, and have strong resistance to oxygen absorption and resonant vibration – both of which are key causes of demagnetization in conventional rare earth magnets.

WHAT ARE RARE EARTH MAGNETS?

Rare-earth magnets date back to the 1970’s and produce significantly stronger magnetic fields than other types of magnets such as ferrite or alnico magnets. There are two types of permanent rare earth magnets, namely neodymium and samarium-cobalt.

IS MAGNATTACK™ REPRESENTED IN MY COUNTRY?

MAGNATTACK™ Global provides metal fragment solutions worldwide. We also have a number of distributors across the globe who are experts in magnetic separation and can most definitely meet your needs – their details can be found here.

QUESTIONS ABOUT SHIPPING

Q: Can magnets be air-freighted?

A: Yes, however as magnets in aviation are technically classed as 'dangerous goods' due to their potential effects on navigational instruments, magnets should be insulated in accordance with strict aviation regulations. Please contact the relevant freight authorities for full details, or contact us for further assistance.

Q: How do I calculate my freight costs on a magnet from MAGNATTACK™?

A: It is our policy to provide equipment with no additional freight charges to our customers. Freight is arranged and paid for by MAGNATTACK™ Global

Please note: duties and import taxes may apply if you live outside of Australia (this is expected when importing equipment overseas). Please refer to our distributor information or contact us to find out who your nearest distributor is. We may also be able to assist you further with the calculation of relevant duties and import taxes.

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